Plant-based diets are more popular in Black communities than you might think. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 8 percent of Black Americans consider themselves strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to just 3 percent of the general population. A recent Gallup poll found that nearly a third of people of color in America reported cutting down on meat, compared to about a fifth of white Americans.
The plant-food industry is also now a multibillion dollar market, but what about Black-owned plant-based providers? Well, Misha’s Kind Foods is one. The vegan cheese brand recently secured an investment from NBA star Chris Paul and Lizzo even created a TikTok using their product.
“If you’re trying to live a plant-based diet and you want to give up dairy, one of the hardest things for most people is cheese,” said Aaron Bullock, CEO and co-founder of Misha’s Kind Foods. They also have no intention of forcing people to become vegans.
“The beautiful thing is that most of our customers are not vegans. They just want to try making a slight change,” explains chef and co-founder Ian Martin. “They buy it for their vegan daughter or pick it up for a spouse who can’t eat dairy and now the whole family eats it. You don’t have to be vegan to want to help the planet or eat more plant-based foods.”
Bullock and Martin also are interested in the concept of plant-based soul food. “I think we can improve traditional soul food,” says Aaron. “Soul food is the food that feeds the soul and keeps the community alive. That’s soul food. And soul food was the food that we were given but with all of our strength, all of our creativity, made good. So what Ian and I have endeavored to do is to provide ways we can take food and make it soul food and healthy soul food.”
In the video above, the duo also discusses their Misha’s Kindness initiative, which includes social impact programs like a weekly farm-to-table for impoverished families in the Los Angeles area.